Outdoor: Who's out and about?

With Britain's consumers spending more and more time out of the house, Maria Esposito finds out who is on the street and when.

Despite an unrelenting obsession with home-owning and DIY, the British are spending less time than ever before within their own four magnolia walls. Forty per cent of the population now spends more time out of the house than awake at home. This staggering figure is explained by changes to income, mobility and leisure activities. "Disposable income has gone up, so leisure time has increased," Tracey Stern, the managing partner at Universal McCann London, says. "People are spending more time shopping, eating and drinking. The potential for going out has increased exponentially."

This mobility is not limited to shopping and eating out. "People are working longer, so they are spending more time commuting," Stern says. "As house prices have risen in major conurbations, people have moved out." Consequently the population's out-of-home habits, as we reveal using the IPA TouchPoints survey, have radically changed and helped to boost the outdoor advertising market's revenue by 51 per cent since 1994. But which age groups are out and about the most, and what's the best way to target them on their travels?


This age group spends the greater part of its waking day out of the house. The 20- to 34-year-olds polled for the survey were away from home for eight hours a day but only awake at home for 7.5 hours. At 10.44 hours a week, this age group spends the most amount of time travelling, particularly by car, with more time spent in transit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Given their lengthy commutes, the best time to catch this audience is on their way to work, between 9am and 9.30am. To specifically target the male consumer, it's best to wait till the afternoon. "Young men tend to be receptive to messages later in the day," Glen Wilson, the deputy managing director of Posterscope, says. "From a planning perspective, that is the daypart that is relevant to that audience."

While 54.5 per cent usually notice out-of-home ads, only 23.4 per cent claim to like it. Almost half of this age group does, however, find posters with SMS numbers or web addresses useful. As keen users of mobile phones and new technology, this is perhaps no surprise. "Early adopters like to interact with Bluetooth six-sheets," Stern says.


Of all four age groups polled for the TouchPoints survey, 15- to 19-year-olds spend the least amount of time at home. On average, they are only awake at home for 6.3 hours a day, compared with eight hours a day out of the house. During the week, their movements are largely defined by a school or college timetable, which sees them leave home between 8am and 9.30am and then return between 3pm and 4.30pm. On Saturdays, this demographic is out and about from 10am, with peak exposure to outdoor media at 7pm.

The teen consumer is the best disposed to outdoor advertising. According to the survey, 30.7 per cent say they like it and 54.8 per cent say they often notice it. They are also the most appreciative audience, with 63.9 per cent saying that out-of-home ads give them something to look at while travelling. Along with ads in cinema foyers and on billboards, this age bracket is particularly receptive to ads at bus stops. "Bus shelters are a good way to reach young people, because it's a favoured mode of transport," Dave McEvoy, the marketing director at JCDecaux, says. "It's one of their congregation spots."


Over the age of 35, the balance between time out of home and time awake at home starts to tip. The TouchPoints survey reveals that consumers in this age group spend 7.6 hours a day out of home, compared with 8.3 hours awake at home. On an average weekday, the potential exposure to outdoor media for 35- to 49-year-olds peaks at 9am and 3.30pm. On Saturdays, this changes to 10am and 5.30pm.

Like their 20- to 34-year-old counterparts, this group is most likely to drive to work and is therefore best targeted with roadside ads. "Billboards are on major arterial routes and are best for the larger commuting audience," McEvoy says. "It's the traditional means of reaching the 35-plus audience." In spite of its dependence on cars, this age group still notices posters on buses. To catch the attention of stay-at-home women, who spend less time out of the house than men in this age bracket, more technologically advanced outdoor formats can be effective. "With traditional outdoor, people such as housewives would be difficult to reach, but we've got digital media we can buy within supermarkets and leisure centres," Wilson says.


By the age of 50, the amount of time spent out of home drops dramatically. People in this age range stay at home on average for 10.4 hours a day and venture out for only 5.8 hours. Women over 50 spend even more time at home than men, with females totalling 5.3 hours outdoors and males 6.4. While there are definite peaks in the daily outdoor media consumption of the younger age groups, the 50+ bracket is more consistent across the day, maintaining steady exposure to out-of-home advertising between 9.30am and 5pm.

Their potential exposure may be greater but 50+ consumers are not particularly amenable to the medium. According to the TouchPoints survey, only 9.4 per cent liked outdoor advertising, while 39.6 per cent felt there was too much of it. This age group dismisses the idea that ads can be both relevant and informative, but does tend to notice billboards and posters on buses and in supermarkets. In fact, the bigger the ad, the better. "They tend to like the bigger formats because they want reassurance and that carries some kind of depth of message," Stern says.

15- to 19-year-olds
7pm peak exposure to outdoor ads
30.7% like outdoor advertising

20- to 34-year-olds
10.44 hrs spent travelling
9am best time to target

35- to 49-year-olds
7.6 hrs spent out of home
3.30 pm when most exposed to outdoor ads

5.8 hrs spent outdoors
39.6% "There are too many outdoor ads"


Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content